Hearing the lo-fi sounds of their latest album, “Twentieth Century”, wafting out of the speakers, it comes as a bit of a surprise to find that the creators of this album are something of an indie supergroup. Consisting of a line-up built around Hue Williams (The Pooh Sticks), Amelia Fletcher and Rob Pursey (both Talulah Gosh/Heavenly, The Catenary Wires), Bob Collins (The Dentists, The Treasures of Mexico) and Ian Button (Death in Vegas, with Louis Philippe, Pete Astor and Papernut Cambridge), “Twentieth Century” is definitely rooted in the rough around the edges indie sounds of the 90s.
Imagine picking up NME in that era and you’ll find page upon page of bands that sounds like Swansea Sound and that feels like the main problem with “Twentieth Century”. Built around fuzzy, hazy guitars and those hypnotic, poppy melodies, tracks like “Punish The Young” and “Seven In The Car” feel like they were conceived in a smoky student accommodation after being weaned on a diet of sounds straight out of your average 90s student indie night. It’s not that it’s a particularly bad record but, even when it gets a bit more energetic on tracks like “Far Far Away”, it just doesn’t really give off an air of anything unique.
Lyrically, the album has more of an interesting slant as the songs take on an almost story like approach. Inspired by alternative culture in the twentieth century, this is where the album really shows a bit of quality. Opener “Paradise”, for example, sees frontman Hue trying to establish some kind of relationship with a woman who only really exists on his screen. “Click & Collect” continues as a story based on online shopping. The whole album is a frustrated, almost bitter take on modern life whether it be the aforementioned relationships or a look at the attitudes of young people to modern life and music on “Punish The Young”.
Musically, “Twentieth Century” feels like it hasn’t listened to much since the 90s while lyrically, the stories definitely give the album a bit of grit. Ultimately though, when the two join forces, the end result, like many of the relationships on the album, frustratingly feels like it lacks that all important spark.
For more information on Swansea Sound, visit their Official Bandcamp Page